The Detroit Tigers are closing in on a dubious mark.
Just five losses away from matching the single-season record, the Tigers will instead try to move closer to avoiding that fate as they continue a weekend series with the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome.
Struggling to play .250 ball this season, the Tigers will have to win five of their last nine to avoid matching the modern era record of 120 losses by the 1962 New York Mets. That’s an even more daunting task since six of Detroit’s last nine games are against the Twins, who have won 12 of 13 meetings this season, and 20 of the last 21.
“We’ve just got to finish as strong as we can,” third baseman Shane Halter said Thursday. “If we break the record or if we don’t, we at least can know we gave it everything we’ve got.”
Detroit has lost seven straight, including 6-2 to Minnesota in the series opener on Friday.
Eric Milton, making his second start of the season after missing five months with a knee injury, got his first regular season win since Aug. 1, 2002, as the AL Central-leading Twins won their seventh straight.
“It doesn’t matter how many losses they have,” Milton said. “I didn’t have a win this year coming into this game.”
The Twins cut their magic number to six over Chicago. The White Sox beat Kansas City and stayed 3 1/2 games behind.
Tigers rookie Jeremy Bonderman gave up 10 hits and five runs in 3 1-3 innings, taking his 19th loss of the season. He lost in his first start since being pulled from the rotation on Aug. 28.
STANDINGS: Tigers - 5th place, 46 1/2 GB, AL Central. Twins - 1st place, AL Central.
TIGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Nate Robertson (1-1, 5.51 ERA). The left-hander makes his seventh start of the season, and first of his career against Minnesota. Robertson is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in three starts since getting his first career victory on Aug. 29. He gave up six runs and seven hits in just 2 1-3 innings of a 7-2 loss to Kansas City on Sunday.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Johan Santana (11-3, 3.11 ERA). The 24-year-old left-hander will try to win his eighth straight decision. He is 7-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 starts since his last loss on July 23. Santana has beaten the Tigers twice during that stretch, limiting them to two runs and seven hits in 14 innings. He is 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in nine career appearances, including three starts, against Detroit.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Tigers - Dmitri Young, .282 avg., 28 HRs, 76 RBIs and 71 runs; Alex Sanchez, 37 SBs. Twins - A.J. Pierzynski, .311 avg.; Torii Hunter, 26 HRs and 100 RBIs; Shannon Stewart, 87 runs; Luis Rivas and Cristian Guzman, 17 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Twins, 12-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Tigers - With one more defeat, RHP Bonderman would join LHP Mike Maroth as the first teammates to lose 20 games in a season since Stan Bahnsen and Wilbur Wood with the 1973 Chicago White Sox. … Bonderman leads the staff with 104 strikeouts, and could become just the sixth Detroit rookie— and the first since Felipe Lira in 1995—to lead the team in strikeouts. … DH Young needs two home runs to become the second switch-hitter in Tigers history to get 30 homers and 30 doubles in a season. Twins - LHP Milton has pitched 12 innings without a walk since his return. … RHP Eddie Guardado has 38 saves in 41 chances this year, helping the Twins to a 72-1 record when leading after eight innings. … The Twins have never had more than three hitters finish above .300 in a season. With nine games to play, four Twins are in the running to hit .300—OF Stewart (.308), OF Jacque Jones (.306), C Pierzynski (.311) and 1B Doug Mientkiewicz (.302).
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Tigers - 18-58 on the road; Twins - 44-33 at home.